Sunshine Spells and My First Day of Class

How lovely it is to be writing again! While I am in no way done with classes, I could not allow my blog to suffer in silence any longer. I have so much to talk about, but I will keep everything succinct so that I do not end up writing a novel.

Blind Marmalade Tasting

This past Saturday was my FIRST class at the Food Craft Institute, and what a glorious day it was! I flew home for the weekend and was met with uncharacteristically hot weather. 85 degrees in Oakland in April?? I’ll take it! Our class of about 12 foodies was buzzing with excitement as we mingled and snacked on the beautiful breakfast spread (um, Blue Bottle coffee and Miette pastries anyone?). Class began with an overview of the course and was followed with a blind marmalade tasting and a special guest appearance by Rachel Saunders! Saunders is the founder and owner of Blue Chair Fruit Company, a craft jam and marmalade producer, who began just making tiny batches of preserves in her apartment and now sells to William Sonoma. A tremendous achievement, and something that I aspire to do one day (product TBD).

Lunch was, of course, well catered by Bay Area resto Summer Kitchen. Pray that I don’t gain weight from this class. Lastly, class was brought to an end with a presentation from a “failed” food entrepreneur. While she was glad that her business did not succeed (she realized that it was the wrong path for her) she pointed out essential advice to any beginning entrepreneur. For example, have a business partner and don’t try to go into this alone. An entrepreneur is really 3 people at once: entrepreneur, manager and technician, so get some help. Also, spend money on people’s services if it will save you time, and time is your most precious commodity. In other words, hire a lawyer to deal with paperwork that will take you 6 months to understand. And of course, figure out how to raise capital. To me, that is the most intimidating part of being an entrepreneur, but that is a ways down the line for me, so for now, it’s all about networking!

Being home was such a breath of fresh air. As much as I love Los Angeles, the Bay Area will always be one of my favorite places. Between the food (shout out to one of my favorites, Hawker Fare), the astonishing natural beauty and the endless possibilities for adventure, there are very few flaws…For such a fantastic summer weekend, I wanted to include my recipe for Sunshine Granola :). Granola is so overpriced at the supermarket, but is so easy to make (you can do it with your eyes closed and a palette that can discern “tasty” from “bland”). Feel free to adjust the recipe to your liking.

Sunshine Granola – makes about 7 cups granola

6 cups rolled oats (not instant); 1 1/2 cup toasted almonds (chopped); 3 tablespoons flax seeds; 1 tablespoon sesame seeds (optional); 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon; 1 cup honey; 1 cup shredded coconut (plus more for garnish); dash salt; fresh mango

Preheat oven to 350°F. In a bowl, combine oats, nuts and seeds, coconut, cinnamon, salt and sweetener.

 Spread evenly on a rimmed baking sheet and bake for 20-30 minutes, or until golden brown. Stir mixture occasionally, and make sure that the granola on the edges don’t burn. The browner the mixture gets, the crunchier the final product will be. Remove pan from oven and add dried fruit if you like. Cool on a wire rack and stir occasionally. Once granola has reached room temperature, store in a sealed container.

Serve with yogurt, milk, soy milk or however you like and top with unsweetened coconut and mango slices. Enjoy your bowl of sunshine :)